Category Archives: Sefardim
It was a normal evening in early November. In Netivot, the town of
memorial celebrations for saintly rabbis, quiet is something tangible –
actually rare. Perhaps this was the reason why there was something
disturbing about the quiet that prevailed outside. The little ones were
already lying in bed in their pajamas when suspicious shadows were seen
in the garden outside S.’s kitchen. Looking through the window, she
made out three figures, and she felt something bad was about to happen.
She knew these were the thugs of Rabbi Yoram Aberjil. At that very
moment, her husband, A., was at the police station, filing a complaint
of attempted assault by people he identified as the rabbi’s followers.
She was alone with her small children. "I knew that the outer door of
the kitchen was not locked. That’s how it is in Netivot. My whole body
S. pushed the stove against the door and ran to the "safe" room
(reinforced against rocket attacks). She frantically emptied the wall
closet and put the children into it. Meanwhile, the thugs entered the
building. They hammered wildly at the door and shouted over and over
for her to open it. A neighbor yelled from above: "What do you want
here?" They said: "We’ve come to kill her."
"I took a carving knife and held it ready. The children started crying.
I told them: ‘Quiet. If you cry, it will be the end of us.’ I held my
hand over the mouth of the youngest child. One of the children said:
‘Mommy, it’s like in the Holocaust.’" The intruders continued to bang
on the door and shout. Someone called the police, and when they heard
the sirens, they ran off. "That night we packed our bags and fled," she
Until a few months ago, Rabbi Aberjil was the rabbi of S. and her
husband. The two are in their late 20s, and, like all the members of
the community, are newly religious. Over the last year, they decided to
move away from the crowded community. They found an apartment outside
of the area in which the community is concentrated, and moved the
children to schools not identified with Rabbi Aberjil.
In the second week of September, S. relates, the telephone rang, and it
was Rabbi Aberjil on the line. "I want you to know that your children
are precious to me," he said. "I won’t let anyone pick the fruit I
planted. The next conversation will be really painful. I will follow
you. I have ways of making you disappear in a hit-and-run accident. I
will curse your children. I’m telling you, I have powers. Your children
will be orphans."…
Rabbi Aberjil has a long history of sexual harassment and thuggish violence, most of it well known to Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and the head of the Shas party, Eli Yishai. Aberjil continues to prey on ba’alei teshuva and the rabbis continue to remain silent.
There is only one solution. Throw off the yoke of rabbinic leadership. Stop funding religion. Separate Synagogue and State. Run away from these evil men before they destroy you and your children.
[Hat Tip: JWB.]
An Orthodox convert from Canada makes so much sense, it’s painful. Barbara Crook puts Sefardic Chief Rabbi and haredi stooge Shlomo Amar in a corner and beats the stuffing out of him:
I’m a Jew by choice. It’s the most important choice I ever made in my life, and perhaps the most important choice I will ever make.
Almost eight years after my husband and I completed Orthodox conversions in Canada, every action in my life is defined by my Jewish identity and my desire to be on the front lines for Israel.
I’ve been on numerous Jewish boards, including that of an Orthodox outreach organization, was named woman of the year by my local chapter of Emunah and have lectured about Jewish leadership across Canada. And whom do my Jewish-born friends call when they have questions about Jewish laws or tradition? The convert, of course.
I’ve been to Israel 18 times since my first trip in May 2003, have led missions to Israel and taught Canadian and American university students how to defend Israel. I spend most of my vacations studying Hebrew in Jerusalem, and work for an Israeli organization that has defended Israel in parliaments and conferences around the world.
According to Jewish law, I have all the obligations and privileges of any Jew born of a Jewish mother. But if Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar gets his way, when the time comes to make aliya I will be denied the basic right of equality to other Jews under the Law of Return. Rabbi Amar wants to change Israeli law so that only Jews born to a Jewish mother would be entitled to automatic citizenship.
"[Converts] are able to come as citizens through other laws, and that is fine… of course they will be considered," he told Israel Radio.
In other words, all Jews are equal, but some Jews are less equal than others.…
[Ms. Crook then lists the copious instances where the Torah demands respect for and protection of the convert, including the then (and, aparently now) novel concept that converts and born Jews are equal under the law.]
The Torah codifies and champions something that Rabbi Amar has failed to grasp: my fundamental right as part of our nation to join my people under equal terms and settle in the Land of Israel.
The future of Israel and the Jewish people depends on Jews who embrace Judaism and are proud to be Jews – whether by birth or by conscious decision. I have made my choice and God has recognized my choice. My right to the land is no less than Rabbi Amar’s. God gave me that right. Rabbi Amar cannot take it away.
At this point, I hope our next chief rabbis come from the Reform Movement. Even if they don’t, Shlomo Amar and his ethically, legally and morally challenged Ashkenazic counterpart need to be removed ASAP.
The JPost’s Anshel Pfeffer gives us a brief biography:
…His recent bout of illness notwithstanding, the followers of the rabbi – who will today be celebrating his 86th birthday in a hospital ward, after also spending Yom Kippur there in his third hospitalization in as many weeks – cannot even begin imagining what life without him will look like. It’s not only the sanctity of life that makes them insist that Yosef will live to 120, nor is it the awe in which he is held, but the total absence not only of a credible successor, but of an entire substrata of spiritual leadership in the haredi world.
The almost total vacuum that will be caused by Yosef’s absence will not be because of the depth and breadth of his Torah learning or the audacity of his halachic rulings, unrivalled perhaps in generations, but the particular brand of leadership he has exhibited for five decades.…
…Unique among other senior rabbis, he wasn’t the scion of a long-established rabbinic dynasty, pampered and nurtured in a Torah environment from infancy. Instead, his father Ya’acov, a poor grocer with a weakness for arak and singing, did everything in his power to end his son’s nascent yeshiva career and set him to work dragging flour sacks.
Even after his father was thwarted, Yosef still had to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles of poverty and position before he managed to establish himself as a professional rabbi and dayan. None of his siblings managed to travel his route; most of them are still secular.
When addressing the spiritual needs of a fragmented Mizrahi community, buffeted by the challenges of poverty and eroding parental authority, Yosef knew exactly where they were coming from. That rapport, together with his prowess in Torah, was the secret of his success. Those strengths enabled him to forge diverse groups into a social force, long before it first took political form when Shas ran in the 1984 elections. It is also what commanded wide respect – not only from Israeli haredim – both within and outside the Mizrahi community.…
Rabbi Mark Dratch writes in the Jewish Week:
[D]enial and cover-up and dismissal of complaints and victimization of vulnerable children and adults are also serious and cannot be easily dismissed or pushed aside. Too many innocents have felt unheard, ignored, rejected, and sacrificed on the altar of public and private reputations. They have been silenced in order to protect the image of a community whose perfection exists only in their imaginations.
Too many times Jewish law and Jewish values are misapplied, misinterpreted and misappropriated in order to achieve these reprehensible ends.
There are reasons that victims, along with their supporters and advocates, have turned to the blogs, Web sites, newspapers and magazines. And that’s because too many times they first turned to rabbis and Jewish institutional leaders to complain about the abuse and violation they suffered — and they were abused again.…
[B]logs are here and, for now, supply a valuable service. In a community that was responsive and accountable the excesses on the blogs would be unnecessary. At the moment, there are those who feel that they have no other choice. Innocents — victims and potential victims of abuse and the values and reputation of a compassionate and valuable community — are being hurt by a community that could and should do better.
That so few Orthodox Jews understand this is telling.